United Press International Radio Network

United Press International Radio Network

United Press International Radio Network

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United Press International (UPI) was the first wire service to start its own radio network.

A late 1950s offshoot of UPI's television footage service, "UPI Movietone," and known as "UPI Audio," it began as an "actuality service," selling the sounds of newsmakers and UPI reporters to client radio stations.

In early 1966, UPI acquired the assets and some key personnel of a similarly named (but previously unrelated) competing service, Radio Press International. Out of that merger came an audio service that at its peak served more than a thousand U.S. radio stations and many foreign clients.

In the early 1970s, it began offering a newscast at the top of the hour.

Soon thereafter, it added live sportscasts and business reports. The service name was changed from UPI Audio to UPI Radio Network in 1983 to reflect the greater focus on live programming. Unlike most commercial networks, which paid local stations to air their programming (and commercials) UPI charged stations cash for its broadcast services, allowing them to sell their own advertising within the newscast. It is the model that then-rival wire service Associated Press also used from its later beginnings in the radio network field in the mid-1970s.

After a long period of changing ownerships, business models and bankruptcies, UPI declined into a shell of a news service by 1999, when its then-Saudi Arabian ownership was convinced by its handpicked CEO to exit the broadcasting business United Press...
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